Editor’s Note: This is the start of a series of posts by Ant and Elise, a couple that has been traveling together for over a year, on the ups and downs of traveling as a couple. They will be writing a monthly column on traveling as two since I want to be able to provide some advice for couples traveling, and I tend to travel mostly alone.
Traveling as a couple is unlike anything else. You’re not alone nor are you just traveling with some friends. It’s more than that. You’re traveling together as a unit, and as such you get to share all your experiences (the ups and the downs) with someone else. It’s about seeing places and sights for the first time and knowing you’ve done it together. It’s about creating memories that you can look back on for years to come knowing you shared them with each other.
Elise and I have been together for five years, engaged for one year, and we’ve been traveling as a couple since the beginning of 2010. We decided to travel long term because we wanted to explore the world rather than work our fingers to the bone. We saved hard for three years, quit our jobs, sold our things, and never looked back.
Was it the right decision? We think so. Deciding to travel together was one of the easiest choices we ever made. People told us that traveling as a couple would either “make or break” our relationship, and in all honesty, I can see how that may be the case. You’re with the other person 24/7, and you really do get to know them on a deeper level. There’s no hiding who you really are. It can be tough for some people, but while there have been trying times, it’s only made us stronger.
The biggest thing that makes couples travel work is compromise. Although Elise and I have similar interests, there are still many times we give and take with one another. Not only does compromising allow your partner to experience something that they really want to do, it also opens your own eyes to another side of travel that you might not have experienced on your own. That’s what couples travel is all about. It’s about doing things with and for your partner.
It’s inevitable, however, that you’re bound to fight at one stage or another. The times that Elise and I have had disagreements are usually over matters that don’t need addressing. We’ve discovered that the underlying factor to most of our arguments is that one of us just needs some “me” time. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to have some time on your own. Doing your own thing for a while really helps you appreciate the other person, and it also helps you to see things from their perspective. Just spending a few hours on your own sometimes can make all the difference even if you haven’t been fighting with your partner. The best solution to an argument is to talk with each other truthfully and listen to what your partner has to say. You have time to come to a resolution and there’s no need to blow anything out of proportion. Nipping the issue in the bud before things get out of hand is always the best way to try and solve problems. Communication is the key to any successful relationship.
On the other hand, the support that comes from couples travel is greatly rewarding. When you’re sick or tired, your partner is there to pull you out of the rut, cheer you up, and get you back on your feet. Your partner will be there when you need someone to talk to and when you want to share your deepest fears and sorrows. You get to see each other in a new light and learn more about each other than you ever would back at home. You’re that little piece of home to each other that’s so good to have around.
Traveling together enhances the quality of time you get to spend with your loved one. Because you’re with someone 24/7, there’s always the opportunity to have a laugh, have a chat, and play together. You’re really able to appreciate the small moments together. Waiting for a bus for 12 hours can end up feeling like five minutes.
Whatever way you look at it, traveling as a couple is a unique experience. It bonds you and brings you together; it’s something special you both share that will truly last a lifetime.
Anthony is one half of the dynamic duo at Positive World Travel. Both he and Elise will be writing about their experiences and thoughts on what long-term travel is like as a couple. You can also follow them on Facebook for more of their travel updates.